‘We never assumed a back seat’

8/25/2017, 7:33 p.m.

African-American people did not lose the Civil War. And, as opposed to man’s historical traditions, we did not rob or pillage or rape. The fact of the matter is that rather than throw this in their faces, we took to the higher ground, attempting to assimilate into a society whose lofty goals of freedom and equality for all came with the blatant exclusion of black people and the subtle exclusion of some white people who, to this day, don’t even realize it.

In this adopted country, we never assumed a back seat in its development nor in the defense of this nation. We fought in the Revolutionary War, in the Civil War and stood shoulder to shoulder with others in every war thereafter, and together we never lost.

But going forward, there remains a faction within this society whose minds are caught up in a time warp. They continue to pick at old scabs to bleed pre-Gettysburg gray while hollering in the hopes that someone will hear them.

To those who clutch so closely to the right and would again segregate just for color’s sake: Statues of Civil War generals mounted on their steeds in Southern states serve as a two-edged yoke. They remind us of the oppression and other atrocities that our ancestors endured while they commit you to thoughts of your ancestors’ past wealth and the ongoing myth of white privilege that you so revere.

To you, these symbols of your past — more than 150 years ago — remain fresh and mean more to some than the present or the future.

The all important question is why?

The answer, I suspect, is not skin pigment but fear’s pigment of emptiness that dwells within the darkness of your minds.

If Donald Trump couldn’t honor a P.O.W., then the compromise in leaving these statutes might be reached if the Confederate generals’ swords were placed through their hearts as you have repeatedly done over and over and over again to us. 

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven ...”


Sacramento, Calif.

The writer is a 1969 graduate of Virginia Union University and a 1974 graduate of Meharry Medical College.